The Tooele County School District’s graduation rate for the class of 2019 dropped slightly from previous years, but that difference is mainly due to changes in the district’s alternative high school, according to school district officials.
The Utah State Board of Education released 2019 graduation rate details last week. The state’s graduation rate for the class of 2019 was 87.4% and the overall graduation rate for Tooele County School District’s class of 2019 was 83%.
A closer look at individual high school graduation rates shows that the rate for the school district’s alternative high school, Blue Peak, drew down the district’s average, according to Debra Bushek, TCSD director of assessment, accountability and research.
But those numbers may not be indicative of an academic problem at Blue Peak High, she said.
“Blue Peak High School has a lot of students enrolled in the online school, MyTech High,” Bushek said. “Many of those students are not seeking a high school diploma. We’re trying to find out if they were included in calculating Blue Peak’s graduation rate.”
Blue Peak’s small enrollment has made its evaluation scores for school grades and graduation rates fluctuate in the past, as it only takes a change in a few students’ scores to make a large difference in overall percentage for the school.
The nature of Blue Peak’s student body also may make its graduation rate lower as a result of the federal definition of a graduate.
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act has four different outcomes for high school students. High School students either are a graduate, a continuing student, an other completer, or a dropout.
Continuing students are students who have been allowed to continue attending school beyond their senior year, or those who transferred to higher education, including a technical college, without first receiving a high school diploma.
Students considered “other completers” are those students who completed the General Education Development test or a certificate of completion, or are a student with a disability who participated in the Utah Alternate Assessment.
Only students in the graduate category, which are students who have earned a basic high school diploma, an alternate diploma for students with a qualifying disability, or an adult education high school diploma by Sept. 30 following the end of their cohort school year, are used in calculating the graduation rate, according to the Utah State Board of Education.
A look at graduation rates for TCSD’s traditional high schools reveal an increase in the graduation rate at some of the schools with a small decline at others, according to Bushek.
Dugway High School graduation rates are reported as a range because the graduating class is so small revealing an actual score may disclose information about an individual student.
However, DHS graduation rate range increased from 60-69% in 2018 to greater than or equal to 80% for 2019.
Wendover High School’s graduation rate is also reported as a range. WHS graduation rate range was greater than or equal to 90% for both 2018 and 2019.
Grantsville High School’s 2019 graduation dropped by 0.3 percentage points to 91.6% for 2019. Stansbury High School’s graduation rate dropped in 2019 by 2.8 percentage points to 89.3%. Tooele High School’s graduation rate for 2019 went up by 2.2 percentage points to 89.6%.
The graduation rates for Granstville, Stansbury and Tooele high schools were all above the state average of 87.4%.